Scripture Verse

There were…shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. Luke 2:8–9


Richard S. Willis (1819–1900)

Words: Ed­mund H. Sears, in the Chris­tian Re­gis­ter (Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts: De­cem­ber 29, 1849), Vol­ume 28, num­ber 52, page 206.

Music: ca­rol Ri­chard S. Will­is, Church Cho­rals and Choir Stu­dies 1850 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

Edmund H. Sears (1810–1876)

Origin of the Hymn

Sears is said to have wri­tten these words at the re­quest of his friend, Will­iam Par­sons Lunt, a min­is­ter in Quin­cy, Mas­sa­chu­setts. The hymn was first sung at the 1849 Sun­day School Christ­mas ce­le­bra­tion.



It came upon the mid­night clear,
That glo­ri­ous song of old,
From an­gels bend­ing near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Hea­ven’s all gra­cious king.

The world in so­lemn still­ness lay,
To hear the an­gels sing.

Still through the clov­en skies they come
With peace­ful wings un­furled,
And still their hea­ven­ly mu­sic floats
O’er all the wea­ry world;
Above its sad and low­ly plains,
They bend on hov­er­ing wing,
And ever ov­er its Ba­bel sounds
The bless­èd an­gels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suf­fered long;
Beneath the an­gel strain have rolled
Two thou­sand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the an­gels sing.

And ye, be­neath life’s crush­ing load,
Whose forms are bend­ing low,
Who toil along the climb­ing way
With pain­ful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and gold­en hours
Come swift­ly on the wing.
O rest be­side the wea­ry road,
And hear the an­gels sing!

For lo! the days are hast­en­ing on,
By pro­phet-bards fore­told,
When with the ev­er circ­ling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall ov­er all the earth
Its an­cient splen­dors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the an­gels sing.